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drug legalization in Latin America



excellent post at the also excellent blog of the Cato Institute



President of Honduras Calls for Drug Legalization

It seems that there is a growing trend in Latin America to openly challenge Washington’s war on drugs. Yesterday, Manuel Zelaya, president of Honduras, openly called for the legalization of drugs as a way to tackle drug-trafficking violence. The venue for Zelaya’s plea couldn’t be less welcoming: a ministerial summit of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.

However, Zelaya is not alone in Latin America. In Argentina, the current government of Cristina Fernández is promoting the decriminalization of drug consumption. In Mexico, where drug related violence is tearing the country apart, the PRD, the biggest opposition party, has also openly called to legalize drugs. And this is not just a left-leaning phenomenon. Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s conservative president, has recently proposed decriminalizing small amounts of some drugs, including cocaine and marijuana.

There are several factors that explain why Latin American leaders are now calling for a different approach to the U.S. international war on drugs. First, the left-leaning governments that don’t enjoy good relations with Washington are less concerned with upsetting it. Second, drug-related violence and corruption are reaching highly disturbing levels, especially in Mexico and Central America and are overwhelming law enforcement authorities. In Guatemala the local army recently admitted that there are portions of the country’s territory under the control of local cartels. Washington’s war on drugs is threatening the stability of these democracies.

However, another important factor is that many Latin American countries are now less susceptible to punishment from the United States, thanks in part to free trade agreements. A decade ago, all Latin American countries but Mexico depended on unilateral trade preferences to export to the U.S. market. Upsetting Washington could represent losing these preferences. Today, 11 Latin American countries have implemented (or are in the process of implementing) permanent trade agreements with the United States that ironically gives them more stability in their relationship with Washington.

As Ted Galen Carpenter recently explained in an op-ed, the stakes are too high for stability and security not only for Latin American countries but also for the U.S. Let’s hope that more leaders in the region raise their voices against the failed international war on drugs, and call for sensible policies such as drug legalization.

posted by Juan Carlos Hidalgo on 10.14.08 @ 3:25 pm Print This Post


09:41 PM Oct 14 2008 |

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levicantu, I agree, the War on Drugs has been a pretty dismal failure. Illegal drugs increases the price, creating more profits for the suppliers, more avenues for terrorists or guerillas to use these means to generate cash, and more violence as the suppliers, growers, dealers all seek to protect their interests. Take away most of the profit and these problems would be diminished. 



02:40 AM Oct 15 2008 |




Not to mention, if it's a legal business, you have to pay taxes. In The Netherlands, a large portion of the states income comes from the tax money on marihuana. The Latin countries could invest the money in health services and education.

01:16 PM Oct 16 2008 |

Ŧңέ Ģâறє

Ŧңέ Ģâறє

United Arab Emirates

I agree with levicantu that the war on drugs to stop it will be the big failure for the country unless the all countries work togather to stop it.

they must first educate people about the impact of drugs not only on the parson but also on the society. then, they must have a strict sentences about the person who sales drugs or deal with him. also they should provide treatment like what Ruo23t said.

12:44 AM Oct 17 2008 |